Date Night on a Budget
Between two kids, various commitments and a collective six jobs, it’s a wonder that my husband and I ever get time alone. Usually our quality time involves collapsing on the couch around 8:00 p.m. to mindlessly watch the television for approximately an hour or so before heading up to bed. Through various grunts and syllables we manage to communicate the minimum of knowledge to get our family through the week. And while this bare bones approach gets us through, we also realize that it is not ideal. Therefore, we prioritize quality time (actual conversation) together at least once per week.
Date night usually takes place on a Friday or Saturday, but can be pushed as far forward as Thursday, or as far back as Sunday. The frequency of date night could become expensive if we were constantly hiring babysitters and heading out on the town to gorge in restaurants. Instead, we have come up with ways to enjoy the time together, even if it means staying in our own living room.
Tips for a Successful In-house Date Night
- Location: The setting of your date is very important. If you (like us) usually veg out in front of the television, be sure to switch locations to create fertile ground for interesting conversation. If you stick to your usual spot, you will fall into your usual habits. Sometimes my husband and I move a small table and two chairs into a room that is nowhere near the kitchen or family room. By adding a few candles and some soft music, we manage to trick ourselves into believing that we are in a fancy café.
- Food: Prepare your menu a few days beforehand so that you have time to shop accordingly. Ideally, one of you can prepare the meal while the other puts the kids to bed. Incorporate several courses into the meal so that the evening lasts longer. Remember, the key to a successful date night is NO CHILDREN so feed your little ones first and plan the adult meal for after they have gone to bed. Last week, lobster was on sale at the supermarket for $4.99/lb so we managed to feast on a lobster dinner for two for less than $15!
- Conversation: Dinner conversation on date night does not include the subjects of our children nor the everyday grind. Instead we focus on topics that we used to discuss pre-parenthood: politics, economics, travel, friendships, successes, or future goals and dreams. By avoiding the discussion of parenthood for an hour or two, you will experience the connection that originally brought you together as a couple. That is not to say that discussing your role as a parent is not important, but merely that taking a break from discussing responsibilities will allow you to reconnect and remember another part of yourselves.
- Games: Another way to help make an in-house date night more fun is by playing a game. Before children, my husband and I loved to play cards or Scrabble. Now these games are reserved for more special occasions, encouraging laughter and a little healthy competition.
Although September has arrived and we are all a bit busier, I would argue that fighting to keep date night in the rotation is every bit as important as the other scheduled activities. Quality time as a couple will allow you to maintain a healthy union and build on a relationship that exists separate from the kids.